I recently was commissioned to do a portrait of Loung Ung, author of First They Killed my Father: a Daughter of Cambodia Remembers and Lucky Child: A Daughter of Cambodia Reunites with the Sister she left behind. She is also a National Spokesperson for the Campaign for a Landmine-Free World. This portrait is to accompany an article written by Jeff Guerrero soon to appear in Urban Velo.
The original sketch
To prepare for the drawing first off I went to the library to pick up First They Killed my Father. It was finished in a matter of hours, leaving me sore-eyed and completely devastated. For bearing witness to such an immense event from our recent history, her book is a must-read, especially for this generation. I’m only embarrassed I haven’t read it sooner.
The pencil and ink drawing.
While referring to having “so much sadness I didn’t know what to do with it”, Loung, being only seven, eight – nine years old in the Cambodian killing fields, having family members taken away from her, said she used her anger to keep her from succumbing to the depression that led to others giving up, and even entire families to committing suicide. This rage allowed her to stay afloat… so in the illustration I felt it was necessary to there being water. Loung also wrote about being in the center of injustice and seeing how beautiful the sky could be – how it seemed so unreal that so much beauty could exist in the middle of so much suffering.